Africa

South Africa’s latest ban on alcohol sales is likely to force 35,000 bar owners in the poorest communities into bankruptcy, according to industry bodies representing the country’s biggest drink makers, Bloomberg News reported. The decision to abruptly prohibit the retail of booze for a second time since March is aimed at reducing alcohol-related hospital admissions while surging coronavirus cases put a strain on emergency wards.

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South African banks are looking at options ranging from debt consolidation to new ways of leveraging equity to avoid defaults when coronavirus-related debt relief measures end, industry officials said, Reuters reported. The banks gave customers in good standing relief on loans during the pandemic, including payment holidays of up to three months. But some consumers are still in trouble. Some banks have offered extensions, while others like Capitec offered to refund interest accumulated during payment holidays.

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The International Chamber of Commerce, a global trade union and civil society groups urged the Group of 20 major economies to extend and expand a freeze in debt service payments to help not just the poorest, but also middle-income countries, weather the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The ICC, International Trade Union Confederation, and Global Citizen, a group pushing to end extreme poverty by 2030, also called on G20 finance ministers, who will meet online on July 18, to take additional steps to boost th

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The South African government is “on course” to provide a funding commitment for the restructuring of loss-making South African Airways (SAA), a senior official said on Friday, Reuters reported. The comments by the acting director-general of the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) will ease concerns at the airline after the finance ministry told lawmakers last week it would not provide any new money.

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A South African court today dismissed an appeal by administrators in charge of South African Airways (SAA) against a ruling which prevented them from laying off staff, Reuters reported. The failure of the appeal means the administrators may have to start consultations about layoffs from scratch if employees do not accept severance packages they have been offered. South African labour law stipulates a minimum two-month consultation period for layoffs.

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South African Airways cleared another hurdle needed to ensure the state-owned carrier’s survival when most labor groups agreed to sweetened severance packages for retrenched workers, Bloomberg News reported. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Airways Cabin Crew Association, which were fiercely opposed to plans to cut the workforce to 1,000 staff from about 4,700, agreed to fresh terms including unpaid training courses for some of the staff beyond their departure, the government said in a statement late Tuesday.

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Edcon Holdings Ltd. agreed to sell part of South African clothing chain Edgars to a private equity-backed regional rival, potentially safeguarding a 91-year-old brand and saving thousands of jobs, Bloomberg News reported. Administrators led by Lance Schapiro and Piers Marsden struck a deal with Retailability Pty Ltd., a holding company for brands Legit, Beaver Canoe and Style, which owns 460 stores across southern Africa. Details of the transaction will be finalized based on further agreements, the business-rescue team said today.

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Justin Bgoni, chief executive of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, received an unexpected call from a colleague last month: The government had decided to shut down the world’s best performing stock market, the Wall Street Journal reported. Until the suspension, announced June 26 in a tweet from Zimbabwe’s information ministry, the all-share index on the Harare-based exchange had jumped 677 percent since Jan. 1, even as local economists expect gross domestic product to shrink by more than 10 percent.

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Steinhoff International, battling the fallout from a massive accounting fraud, faces legal claims amounting to more than 9 billion euros ($10.10 billion), the South African retailer’s annual report showed on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The report for the year ended September 2019 listed numerous court cases with claimants seeking more than 9 billion euros in payments or damages. It also included Steinhoff’s annual results, with the retailer’s full-year loss widening to 1.8 billion euros from a 1.2 billion loss a year earlier.

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Government debt burdens across sub-Saharan Africa are rising at a faster pace and to higher levels than elsewhere in emerging markets, heightening the risk of further rating downgrades and defaults, ratings agency Fitch warned on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Emerging markets have been battered by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, with a coinciding oil price rout adding to the pain for smaller and often riskier developing countries, many focussed on crude exports and having few fiscal or monetary buffers.

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